FRIDAY, 24 JANUARY 2014

It can get ugly

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I don't feel at all qualified to speak on behalf of people living with disability even though I have shared in the lives of many people over the years and I have a son with Down Syndrome. Certainly, my association with other families who have children with Downs and spending time with dear friends with disabilities has enriched my perspective, but I don't want to stand in a public space on this issue principally because people living with disabilities can and do speak well for themselves. It is they whom we should be listening to.

Certainly, my wife Anne and I have experienced some discrimination in our time, but really only in a small way. Enough, however, to know that just below the surface of even cordial exchanges can lie poor attitudes and even bad intentions. The testimony of many friends bear this out in some disturbing… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 15 JANUARY 2014

Death of Welsh academic shows why suicide is the ultimate taboo

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The Welsh newspaper Wales Online recently reported the tragic story of a 44-year-old Welsh academic who chose suicide in the face of her deteriorating health due to the lethal degenerative disease multiple sclerosis. Frances Medley, the former acting head of the Wales Arts Council, a high achiever by any measure, declared in her blog:

The prospect of further rapid deterioration was both terrifying and not one I wanted to entertain. I decided to end my life in a manner of my choosing. I am very clear that, whilst the law might say otherwise, I AM NOT COMMITTING SUICIDE.”

Medley also commented: “Hold your tongue at times when you risk blurting out judgmental potentially hurtful comments; we seldom know the full back story.” Certainly a good principle to live by and one, that for the sake of her memory and the devastation at her loss, I intend to… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 5 JANUARY 2014

Belgium and the majesty of the law

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Marc Cosyns and Wim Distelmans (photo: Fred Debrock)

What was it Winston Churchill said about Russia: “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”? With respect to social policy, much the same applies to Belgium. Supporters of euthanasia there just roll their eyes in exasperation when critics in the English-speaking world thunder about slippery slopes or violations of human dignity.

The two sides are simply failing to mesh gears in the moral debate. The best example of this is a conversation in the leading Belgian newspaper De Standaard between Wim Distelmans and Marc Cosyns, two leading advocates of legalised euthanasia.

Dr Distelmans is the best-known spokesman for euthanasia in Belgium, its best-known practitioner, and the chairman of the Federal Control and Assessment Commission since it was legalised in 2002. Belgian doctors are required to submit a report on every case of euthanasia and… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SATURDAY, 28 DECEMBER 2013

The year’s top posts on euthanasia

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Few social issues are more inflammatory than euthanasia. Careful! gives you the highlights of developments around the world. Here are the year's top posts. 

Belgian kids get the ultimate Christmas present 

Oregon releases murky assisted suicide stats

20 things you might not know about assisted suicide in Europe

Euthanasia for children is wrong

The inexorable bracket creep of euthanasia in Belgium

Nitschke and Exit must answer questions

Is terminal sedation slow euthanasia?

California company selling helium hoods for suicides

Putting doctors above the law

New first for Belgium: prisoner euthanasia

Tasmanian euthanasia bill defeated, 13-11

La Force de iFop: France’s bizarre path to euthanasia

Paternalism in the Apple Isle

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THURSDAY, 19 DECEMBER 2013

La Force de iFop: France’s bizarre path to euthanasia

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It has often been said the French do it differently; though what exactly it is that they do differently is often left undefined.

That is until the news reports today that a panel, made up of 18 citizens picked by polling firm Ifop to represent the French population, decided that assisted suicide was a good thing for the French to pursue - as well as euthanasia in some oddly defined circumstances.

Why a polling firm was required to randomly select 18 French people for a "Conference of Citizens" is not stated. Nor do we gain an insight into why such a group was charged with making such a grave and momentous decision on behalf of the entire French population.

This comes after a meeting of France's medical ethics council recommended that assisted suicide be allowed in exceptional cases.

Processing an issue such as this through successive… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 13 DECEMBER 2013

Belgian kids get the ultimate Christmas present

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The outcome was expected, but observers overseas were astonished at the margin of victory. By a vote of 50 to 17 yesterday, the Belgian Senate approved euthanasia for children. When the bill finally passes – which now seems quite certain – there will be no age limit for choosing to die at the hands of Belgian doctor. The next step is a vote in the lower house, which will probably take place in May.

The conditions for euthanasia are vague. Children who are under 18 but who are of sound mind can request death if their situation is “medically hopeless” and if they are experiencing “unbearable physical suffering that within the foreseeable future will result in death."

Supporters of the bill have argued that there will only be about 10 or 15 cases each year. They contend that terminally-ill children are already being euthanased and it is… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2013

Putting doctors above the law

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Lord Falconer’s (image above) Assisted Dying Bill, which aims to legalise assisted suicide for mentally competent adults with less than six months to live and a 'clear and settled intention to end their lives', had its first reading in the House of Lords last May. It is due to return for a second reading (debate stage) in Spring 2014.

In an interview for Pulse magazine recently, Lord Falconer was asked if GPs were likely to get into trouble with the police for authorising assisted suicide under his proposed bill should it ever become law. His answer was quite revealing.

He said that the bill would make it ‘very difficult’ for GPs to face any proceedings in court as long as it was ‘their genuine view’ that this was the patient’s position. He said: ‘Of course they have to give their genuine view, and of course they… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 8 NOVEMBER 2013

Euthanasia for children is wrong

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Belgium is mooting an unprecedented law that would allow the voluntary euthanasia of children.

Voluntary euthanasia is intentionally ending a life, with a patient’s consent. Different forms of this are legal for adults in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, although there are differences in the grounds on which it is allowed, for example if someone is terminally ill.

In Belgium, doctors can actively take part in someone’s death. But misconceptions about voluntary euthanasia make extending this to children a bad proposal. Here are four of them:

Euthanasia’s the only way to end suffering

This is untrue. Given modern palliative care (which is likely to be available in any European jurisdiction in which active euthanasia is proposed), there is simply no need for euthanasia. Pain and much-feared symptoms such as choking can all be controlled effectively.

Pro-euthanasists love stories about people going screaming… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2013

Tasmanian euthanasia bill defeated, 13-11

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As reported earlier, following 10 hours of grueling and emotionally-charged debate, the latest euthanasia & assisted suicide bill in Tasmania was defeated 13 votes to 11 in the State's Lower House on the evening of Thursday the 17th of October.

This bill had been foreshadowed for some time, (going back more than two years) had been the subject of a consultation (of sorts) in March this year and then suddenly introduced on the last day of the winter sitting, providing only two weeks effective notice of the debate.

This was strategically brilliant on the part of the proposers, Premier Lara Giddings and Nick McKim MP. Their support wing, the Tasmanian Dying with Dignity group, most likely had the bill, their talking points and media strategy planned well in advance of when the bill first introduced.

But their strategy tripped slightly at the first hurdle. A television advert… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2013

The inexorable bracket creep of euthanasia in Belgium

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This op-ed appeared in today's issue of The Mercury, the main newspaper in Hobart, Tasmania, where members of Parliament are gearing up for a debate on euthanasia. It was a companion piece to an article in favour of legalisation by Emeritus Professor Colin Wendell-Smith, convenor of Doctors for Dying with Dignity and co-convenor of Doctors for Voluntary Euthanasia. 

As Tasmanian MPs ponder legalising voluntary euthanasia as a remedy for unbearable suffering, they should take a close look at the situation in Belgium, where it has been legal since 2002.

For starters, at this very moment their colleagues in Brussels are pondering whether to legalise euthanasia for children. Are Belgian five-year-olds really capable of voluntarily choosing to die?

The Belgian MPs are also studying whether to authorise euthanasia for patients with dementia who have written advance directives, even if they appear to be cheerful and content with… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at editor@mercatornet.com.


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